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Prison worker allegedly put escape tools in frozen hamburger meat

By Danielle Haynes
In this composite handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown, June 8, 2015. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6, 2015 using power tools to cut through steel walls and pipes. New York State Police/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/80b85a7e24d5083926cbef3648740de3/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
In this composite handout from New York State Police, convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt are shown, June 8, 2015. Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6, 2015 using power tools to cut through steel walls and pipes. New York State Police/UPI | License Photo

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y., June 23 (UPI) -- Joyce Mitchell, a Clinton Correctional Facility worker accused of helping two inmates escape, allegedly did so by passing tools to them inside frozen hamburger meat, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Clinton County, N.Y., District Attorney Andrew Wiley told WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh, N.Y., that Mitchell allegedly hid hacksaw blades and other tools inside frozen hamburger meat she then passed on to Richard Matt and David Sweat. She left the meat inside a trailer shop refrigerator where she worked.

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Wiley then named another prison worker involved in the plot, corrections officer Gene Palmer, who is accused of taking the meat from the refrigerator and giving it to Matt and Sweat. Palmer has been placed on paid leave. He and Mitchell said he was not aware the tools were in the meat.

A law enforcement official told CNN that Mitchell confessed to police how she used the hamburger meat to pass on the tools.

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She has pleaded not guilty to charges of promoting prison contraband, a felony, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor.

Mitchell said Matt and Sweat used the tools to cut their way through pipes to aid in their escape on June 6 from the prison in Dannemora, N.Y. In the past few days, police have shifted their search for the men to about 25 miles west of the prison.

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Police were tipped off to the location after someone reported seeing a man running into the woods there Saturday. Police found DNA evidence matching at least one of the men inside a cabin near the location.

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